Jesse Weaver Shipley is Professor of African American Studies at Dartmouth. His is an ethnographer, film maker, and artist. His work explores the intersections of aesthetics, politics and youth culture in urban settings. He has conducted fieldwork in Ghana, South Africa, Britain and the United States. Notable among his many works is his film, Living the Hip Life, an ethnographic documentary on the history of Hip Hop Music in Ghana, and his book by the same title (for details visit http://jesseshipley.com/). He is currently working on films and books on female boxers in Africa and the diaspora, and what he calls the aesthetics of sovereignty. The latter project focuses on two coups d’états in Ghana (1979 and 1981), through engagements with diverse archives and images, and in the words and memories of key Ghanaian political actors, including former president Jerry Rawlings.
Jesse Weaver Shipley’s visit was truly eventful. He began his visit with a screening of Living the Hip Life for students from two courses: MUSI 2070 -- Popular Musics and ANTH 2625 – Imagining Africa. The next day he gave a guest lecture in Imagining Africa, in which he shared and discussed footage that he shot of Nigerian boxer, Helen Joseph. In the course of the discussion he addressed the processes of negotiation involved in representing people through media, the gendered inequalities of professional boxing, and related this new material to his earlier work on Hip Hop and urban space. He also invited students to ask questions and discuss their own impressions of the footage in relation to the larger themes of the course. The same day he gave a public talk entitledIntellectual Uprising: Pan-Africanism and Political Transformation in 1970s Ghana, co-sponsored by the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies. Finally, he convened a production workshop, in which he invited graduate students from Music and Anthropology to work on footage from his film in progress on memory and aesthetics of politics in Ghana.
Jesse Weaver Shipley's workshop gave me a fresh insight into the exciting new world of audio-visual ethnography. It was thrilling to get a sneak preview of his work in progress; seeing world-class ethnography in the making is a rare privilege for a graduate student. Jesse was very generous in sharing his latest field recordings with us, and actually allowing us to get hands on with that material was a whole other level of professor-graduate interaction. Tim Booth, PhD Student, Department of Music
Jesse Weaver Shipley was kind enough to offer us an interactive look into one of his projects currently in progress and we were able to work with unedited footage and music samples to create our own short narratives. Being able to collaborate cross-disciplinarily with anthropologists and ethnomusicologists provided a welcome variety of perspective that enriched my understanding of storytelling through a coalescence of video, music, and dance. As a current student, I am always appreciative of senior scholars’ willingness to share what work looks like in progress because we are so consistently shown polished, finished products without seeing their cross-sections. Seeing the thought process and methodology that goes into collaborative storytelling and ethnography, especially in my own field site, provided me with another possible set of tools to explore in my own work. Grace East, PhD Student, Department of Anthropology